Obviously, if you are self-publishing, you don’t need an agent. Possibly if you are approaching a small publishing company, you may not need an agent; however, you should have legal representation experienced in the field to review any contract.
There appear to be ways to protect yourself from unethical agents:
- Talk to other writers who have had really, really good experiences with their agents.
- Some of the writing magazines will list agents who apparently meet with their approval—as always, though, caveat emptor.
- There is also The Association of Authors' Representatives which lists vetted agents at their website www.aaronline.org.
- Another site that helps writers avoid fraudulent or questionable publishing outfits is the Preditors & Editors site, www.pred-ed.com.
- In addition, the Writers Beware Blog, www.accrispin.blogspot.com, exposes scammers and questionable activities in the publishing business.
- You can also check out other writers’ bad experiences at http://forums.writersweekly.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=4626.